“The proper use of interval work will unquestionably increase the athlete’s cardiovascular development and stamina… These workouts will increase the athlete’s ability to compete with oxygen debt, push his body in a state of fatigue, and increases the ability to set a fast ring pace because of his knowledge of his measured endurance.”1

- USA Boxing 

With this kind of endorsement, why wouldn’t you consider these types of workouts?

While roadwork for boxing can often be fun and carefree like the running scenes in Rocky, to reach the higher echelons of the sport a fighter must eventually become more organized in his training and use more advanced training techniques.  Intervals are a key ingredient in building a proper roadwork plan and refer to a type of more intense running where the speed and distance of the run is predetermined.  Usually, an intense running period (i.e. sprint) is followed by either complete rest in the form of walking or a “recovery jog” where the athlete continues moving at a pace that allows his heartbeat to revert back to normal from an elevated state.

While a track may make it easier to measure running distances, hills and grass can be employed for variety.  Different stimuli keep the body guessing and adapting.  In addition, running on grass (as opposed to concrete) is easier on the knees.  Even with a heavy volume of running, you are less likely to develop overuse injuries like shin-splints on grass.

According to the USA Boxing publication, Coaching Olympic Style Boxing, “The results of proper interval training will not only be physical, but with fitness will come a good competitive attitude and confidence.  The mental toughness developed cannot be equaled.  The combination of the toughness, combined with the athletes [sic] skills, will produce champions.”1  This is an important point.  Just as with the other parts of boxer’s exercise regime, you should also use interval training as a way to build your mental toughness.  Whenever you feel tired and want to give less than your all, talk yourself through it.  Think about the long-term glory, rather than the short-term pain.  With practice, these positive internal conversations will become automatic and your ring performances will benefit accordingly.

Note: Without a trainer with you, it will definitely help to have a quality stopwatch.  In order to quantify progress and properly set goals, being able to measure how quickly you perform the sprints and how little recovery time you need is essential.  You should attempt to beat your personal times each workout and try to consciously reduce your recovery times.

The Boxer’s Top Three Intervals

Different athletes will be stimulated by different interval patterns.  The key to preventing staleness is variety.  Below is a list of the types of intervals that I enjoyed performing during my wrestling and boxing days:

The Decreasing Hundred Yards
  • Sprint 100-yards.  Follow immediately with a recovery jog back to the starting point.
  • Sprint 90-yards.  Follow immediately with a recovery jog back to the starting point.
  • Sprint 80-yards.  Follow immediately with a recovery jog back to the starting point.
  • Repeat, decreasing each sprint by 10-yards and end with a 50-yard sprint.
  • Each of these should be considered one segment.  Depending on your level of fitness, several segments may be performed.
Hill Climbs
  • Sprint up a hill, ideally around 100-yards.  Follow immediately with a recovery jog back to the starting point.
  • Assuming a solid conditioning base, 6-10+ of these may be performed.
  • These are best done on a track.
  • Sprint the straightaway of the track.
  • Jog the bend.
  • Sprint the second straightaway.
  • Jog the second bend.  By this point you will be back at the original starting point.  This is one segment.
  • Assuming a solid conditioning base, 4-6+ of these may be performed.
USA Boxing reiterates what I mentioned above, “All sorts of interval games can be developed to keep fun in these very difficult and demanding workouts.  It is important to keep changing patterns to keep monotony from setting in.  FUN is the key word.”1


1. Coaching Olympic Style Boxing. Traverse City, MI: Cooper Publishing Group, 1995.

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